A Catholic priest in Ireland has said he plans to ignore the wishes of his Church and vote for same-sex marriage in the upcoming referendum.
The Republic of Ireland is set to vote on May 22 on a proposal to introduce civil same-sex marriage.
Powerful Catholic lobbying groups have quietly channelled support to the ‘No’ campaign, capitalising on opposition among religious communities – but one priest will not be joining them.
Father Brian Ó Fearraigh – who is based in Gweedore, County Donegal – told Highland Radio that he believes the State should not discriminate against same-sex couples.
He said: “I understand that this referendum is purely a civil matter, and it is to do with civil marriage.
“I believe in my heart of hearts that the state cannot be seen to be discriminating against its citizens, and that when it comes to voting in this same-sex marriage referendum, I believe that voting in yes, the state will be cherishing all of its citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or who they are.
When pointed out his Bishop strongly disagrees, he said: “My conscience is extremely clear on this matter.
“Certainly within the Catholic Church, the Church has its teachings on the Sacramentality of marriage – the Church can’t be forced into changing that, but it’s a separate issue altogether.
“The reality of same-sex marriage is a reality that in no way threatens me or offends me as an individual or a priest and ultimately as a citizen of this state.”
His views are not only at odds with his Bishop, but with the Pope – who recently encouraged people in Slovakia to vote to ban same-sex marriage and adoption.
The Pontiff has also hosted ‘traditional marriage’ events at the Vatican – to which the leaders of listed anti-gay hate groups were invited.